There are still a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to the huge LCD screen plant that Foxconn wants to build in Mount Pleasant. Area residents attended an open house looking for answers on Wednesday.
Last week, Foxconn announced that it plans to build its sprawling $10 billion facility in the Racine County community Mount Pleasant. Around 26,000 people live in the village and since the big announcement, many have been wondering about what the Taiwanese company’s development will mean to them. Tom Rinke lives just north of the project. He says his biggest concern is whether he’ll be forced to give up his property. That’s because his home is in the area that Foxconn hopes to build in the future.
“It would mean relocating after I built my house, myself, lived there 32 years, land was handed down from my wife’s grandfather,” Rinke says.
Rinke says ideally, he and his family would be left alone. He adds that he doesn’t believe the project will ultimately benefit Racine County as much as proponents predict.
“I don’t think they’re going to hire Racine employees because Racine employees aren’t trained for that type of stuff. Unless they’re going to put a training program out for them, I don’t think it’s going to help Racine County or the community. It’ll help the businesses. The restaurants, taverns, all that. As far as hiring people from Racine, I doubt that’ll happen,” Rinke says.
Foxconn says it will employ about 3,000 people at the LCD plant at first, and possibly create up to 13,000 jobs eventually. Harold Cousins is optimistic about how the project could affect the region. He lives about 200 meters north of the second expansion zone. He says he’s owned his home for 30 years but understands he’ll likely have to move.
“It’s going to be good for the community, good for the state, good for the new students that we’re getting some technical jobs. It’ll be good for the greater good,” Cousins says.
Still, Cousins admits its human nature for people not to want to give up their property. While some people at the open house had questions about whether they would be forced to sell, others are looking for buyers. Rose Woodruff lives about a quarter mile from the staging area for the factory. She wants to leave.
“Traffic, pollution, the country field is going to be gone and it’s just going to be totally polluted,” Woodruff says.
The record $3 billion incentives package that Gov. Walker’s team brokered to lure Foxconn to the state includes a loosening of environmental regulations for the project. Woodruff, who says she’s active with the Sierra Club, is worried about how the development will impact wetlands.
“I don’t want to live in a congested, environmentally unhealthy area,” Woodruff says.
Another Mount Pleasant resident says he’s more concerned about the make-up of the workforce, as the area gears up for the Foxconn plant. Alonzo Gardner says he stopped at the informational session to advocate for diversity goals on the road projects and the plant’s construction.
“We want this because projects before that come in this area, minorities have not been included,” Gardner says.
Gardner says that if his tax dollars are going toward the project, he wants to ensure that minorities get a fair share. Racine County officials have scheduled two more open houses to share information about the Foxconn project.
One is scheduled for this evening in Racine and another on October 24 in Burlington.